This case from America was truly shocking. A high school cheerleader has lost a court case against her school and will have to pay the school $45,000 (£27,300) in compensation.
What was worst was not the case itself, but how it came about. The unnamed cheerleader (‘HS’) was sexually assaulted by Rakheem Bolton, an athlete at her school. He pleaded guilty to the assault, but the charge of rape against him was dropped, so he was allowed back onto the basketball team (because being convicted of sexual assault isn’t a bar to representing a school it seems).
In a subsequent game, ‘HS’ refused to cheer her attacker when his name was mentioned, which prompted her expulsion from the cheerleading squad. The school deserves plenty of criticism for this, but so do the courts, especially given the way in which they dismissed her appeal by branding it “frivolous”. Whatever the merits of awarding ‘HS’ compensation, the anger of a sexual assault victim at being punished for failing to cheer her attacker is not some ‘frivolous’ gesture. The court said:
“As a cheerleader, HS served as a mouthpiece through which [the school district] could disseminate speech – namely, support for its athletic teams,” the appeals court decision says. “This act constituted substantial interference with the work of the school because, as a cheerleader, HS was at the basketball game for the purpose of cheering, a position she undertook voluntarily.”
So the school wasn’t at fault for allowing a sex attacker to represent them, rather it was the victim for trying to rebuild her life by taking part in something which mattered to her? Disgraceful.
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Filed in: Sex equality,United States